Blessed Frederick Ozanam - WYD2013 Patron of the Week

Last edited 5th November 2012

Blessed Frederick Ozanam - WYD2013 Patron of the Week

Frederick Ozanam famously said "Those who mock the poor insult their Maker". Frederick was born in 1813, and lived during a turbulent time in France, when unemployment and poverty was extreme! While in college studying law, Frederick realized that he although he was a good practicing Catholic, he was not doing enough to help those suffering around him. Surely being Catholic is more than knowing your faith – you need to live it! Ironically, this change in Frederick’s life actually came during a debate with an atheist, who asked him what he does other than ‘just talk’ to prove he has faith.

At the age of just 20, Frederick established the St Vincent de Paul Society – one of the biggest charities in the world today!

At this time, the people of France were experiencing tremendous political and social upheaval: changes of government, the Industrial Revolution and unjust employment practices. Frederick gathered some colleagues and began to respond in practical ways to the poverty and hardship he saw in the lives of people around him. They visited people in their homes and offered friendship and support. This practice, known today as ‘home visitation’, remains a core activity for St Vincent de Paul Society members and volunteers.

Frederick married a girl called Amelie in 1841, and they had one daughter – meanwhile, the St. Vincent de Paul Society was growing throughout Europe. The French revolution of 1848 left many Parisians in desperate need of the services of the St. Vincent de Paul, and so the movement developed into a global institution, bringing volunteers from all around Europe to assist the needy in Paris. After years of failing health, Frederick died on September 8, 1853. His example showed generations that we should never demean the poor - each man, woman and child was too precious for that.

This is how a small group of young people, under the leadership of a 20-year-old law student, started St. Vincent de Paul, and changed the world! What a message for each one of us...

With your intercession, we may truly share favor with the most needy and give relief to those who suffer. Amen.

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